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Sled Dogs Of The American North: On Masculinity, Whiteness, And Human Freedom

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Chapter Summary

The relationship between men and dogs was a site for men to recast ideas that they had about the nature of whiteness and masculinity. To understand how canine agency worked in dog stories written about the North, this chapter describes the formation of contemporary ideas of Alaska as a haven for the white race. Memoirs, fiction, periodical literature and other sources idealized the labor relationship between the new white Alaskan and his sled dogs—a relationship in which canine or worker agency was lauded, within certain boundaries. The chapter posits that these images offered a utopic re-vision of the possibilities of a collaborative relationship between labor and management, supervisor and supervised, in the new landscape of Alaska. Finally, it explores the popular myth of the wolf-dog, describing how white Alaskan males used stories of the bodies of their dogs to explore ideas of domestication, "wildness," and control.

Keywords: Alaska; canine agency; dog stories; masculinity; sled dogs; white Alaskan males; whiteness; wolf-dog



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